Alien Art: new book by journalism lecturer

70 years ago an American pilot reported seeing nine strange ‘saucer-like’ objects in the sky – and launched the modern UFO myth.

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Crayon drawing made by a nine-year old schoolgirl from Macclesfield, Cheshire, in 1977 of a UFO seen from a primary school. Credit: The National Archives

Within hours of Kenneth Arnold reporting his sighting to the press in June 1947 an enterprising sub-editor coined the phrase ‘flying saucer‘.

Within days the mystery made newspaper headlines around the world – and accounts of extraordinary ‘sightings’ have continued to pour in to the present day.

To mark the anniversary journalism lecturer and reader Dr David Clarke, who is a national expert on the subject, has curated a book based upon a selection of drawings and photographs of UFO sightings sent to the UK Ministry of Defence since the end of the Second World War.

UFO Drawings From The National Archives will be published by Four Corners Books, London, on 18 September 2017, as part of a series that presents introductions to overlooked areas of visual culture.

The book contains 40 original illustrations and an introduction by Dr Clarke, who has worked with The National Archives since 2008 as curator for the release of UFO files created by the MoD and Royal Air Force, under the Freedom of Information Act.

Some of the many UFO files released by The National Archives in Kew

The images include drawings made by a group of primary schoolchildren of a ‘UFO’ they saw from their playground in Cheshire in 1977 and a sketch made by a RAF radar operator showing the movements of an unknown object that was tracked above the English Channel.

The book will be launched at an event in London on 20 September.

Dr Clarke said: “Completion of this book project marks the end of almost two decades of my investigative work on the content of the MoD’s UFO files. They were often described by the media as Britain’s “real X-files” and were once shrouded in secrecy.

“But with the advent of the Freedom of Information Act the Ministry, working with The National Archives, released thousands of pages to the public. This has helped to dispel many misconceptions about this subject and government interest in it.

“The illustrations have been chosen carefully to reflect the range and variety of the imaginative ways in which people from all walks of life have depicted extraordinary things they saw in the sky.”